Tag Archives: technology

The Divided Life of the Modern Day Expat*

I used to dream of writing a novel called Halfway to India. I envisioned the book as a stylized version of the life I was leading at the time – a life married to a quintessentially American guy who had lived in the US for decades, but whose ties to his country of birth remained very strong. The “halfway” part alluded to my frustration that I could never work out the opportunity to actually go to the place that exerted such a powerful, pervasive influence on my everyday life. It was definitely a case of so close and yet so far.

Today, the tables are turned. I am not in India, though I eventually did visit.

Borders, identity cards, and legalities fail to convey a more complex reality.

What does moving to another country really mean in the age of the internet?

Instead, I am very happily in Colombia, the home turf of another culture that I love. But in many ways I am still only “halfway here”, in this country that I have made my home by choice. This is the blessing and the curse of the modern day expat: the ability to live with one foot in your country of birth and the other in your country of residence.

This divided – or integrated, depending on how you look at it – life that my husband and I lead is definitely a product of our technology-driven lives. Continue reading

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Apps for Expats – Or Anyone Who Wants to Communicate (For Free!) Internationally

Author’s Update, 2/12/14: It’s been over a year since I wrote the below post. While most of the recommendations stand true, I’ve switched from using magicJack as my primary phone for international calls to Skype. magicJack still works as described, but overall Skype connections have been more reliable and clear. Check back soon for Apps for Expats II, with more input and suggestions!
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Ask anyone who’s moved abroad or traveled for extended periods and they’ll agree: staying in touch with folks back home is one of the keys to adjusting to a new life. For those with friends and family in another country, being able to communicate easily can make the distance seem a little less.

Fortunately, casual communication across international borders has never been easier or cheaper. Virtually gone are the days of expensive international calls and internet chats with spotty connections.   And while apps like Skype and FaceTime are hugely helpful for calls and chats, there are plenty of other tools for more specific needs. Here are just a few apps – all of which can be downloaded for free – that I love and use regularly: Continue reading